MonitorsPublished on Sep 01, 2016
Terrorists stormed the American University of Afghanistan on August 24 killing 16 people and injuring more than 50.
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume IX; Issue 35



Terrorists kill 16

Terrorists stormed the American University of Afghanistan on August 24 killing 16 people and injuring more than 50. The attack began with terrorists exploding a truck bomb outside the fortified wall of the campus and entering the university killing students, teachers and security personnel mercilessly in the nine-hour long siege. The university which opened in 2006 with US funding was the heart of Afghan liberal learning, offering students Western-style high quality education.

For more information, see: Attack on American University of Afghanistan Leaves 16 Dead; American university attacks hits at heart of Afghan liberal learning

Joint inauguration

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the newly-restored Stor Palace in Kabul along with Ashraf Ghani via video link from New Delhi on August 22. The Stor Palace in Kabul had been damaged over time and took three years to restore. India paid $5.7 million for its restoration with Modi adding that "India’s 1.25 billion people will always be on Afghanistan’s side in terms of working towards peace and stability." Ghani thanked India for its continuing support in days of happiness and sorrow and promised that the Darul Aman palace, which is currently being restored, would be inaugurated soon.

For more information, see: Ghani, Modi inaugurate restored Stor Palace in Kabul

Refugees return

A statement issued by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Afghanistan notes of the urgency of assistance for the thousands of families that have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan in recent months. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), over 60,000 unregistered refugees have returned to Afghanistan and only few have received any support and are struggling to survive.

For more information, see: “Crisis looms as thousands of Afghans leave Pakistan”, Tolo News, August 21, 2016


China wants to invest

Dhaka has not been given an impression of security concerns by Beijing at the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting, rather China has showed keen interest to invest in Bangladesh, informed , informed  an official. Chinese Vice-Minister for Commerce Goa Yan led a delegation at the 14th session of the JEC held this week. The meeting discussed in details issues related to trade, investment, economic assistance and mutual cooperation.

For more information, see: China wants to invest in Bangladesh, security not a concern: ERD secretary

Why 'anti-India' 

Bangladeshis are 'largely anti-India', Professor Emajuddin Ahamed claims, and blames that country's relations with the Awami League for such sentiments. Former Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Emajuddin, one of the key advisors to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, made the remarks at an event in Dhaka this week.

For more information, see: Bangladeshis are 'anti-India' because of its 'ties with Awami League', Khaleda advisor Emajuddin says

Dhaka-Delhi cargo trial

Bangladesh will conduct a trial run of cargo vehicle from Dhaka to Delhi on August 30 under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA). A cargo with readymade garment (RMG) items will start journey from Dhaka after an inaugural function on August 28 and will cross Benapole-Petrapole on August 30. The route for the trial run is - Dhaka-Magura-Jessore-Benapole-Petrapole-Kolkata-Delhi.

For more information see: Dhaka-Delhi cargo trial run under BBIN MVA Aug 30


Cooperation with Thailand

Bhutan wants to increase bilateral cooperation in trade and investment with Thailand. Economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji pointed out that the two countries already enjoy have “excellent cooperation” in sectors like education and health at the first Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting between the two countries held in the capital.

For more information see: Bhutan seeks more economic cooperation with Thailand

Four sentenced for burglary

The Thimphu District Court sentenced four men to non-compoundable imprisonment ranging from two and a half to eight years for a burglary case. A prime suspect in the case, Cigay Dorji, is still at large. No charges have been filed against Cigay Dorji.

For more information, see: Four sentenced for burglary

Mountain Echoes begin

Thunder roared in the sky, a sign befitting to the most-awaited literary festival of the year, the seventh edition of Mountain Echoes, which began in the capital on August 25. Chief Royal Patron of Mountain Echoes, Her Majesty the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and the festival directors from Bhutan and India inaugurated the festival.

For more information, see: 7th edition of Mountain Echoes begins


HC allows women’s entry

Bombay HC said the ban contravenes Article 14 (equality before law within India), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex), 19 (1) (d) (to move freely throughout the territory of India) and 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propogation of religion) of the Indian Constitution.

For more information, see: Bombay HC allows women’s entry into Haji Ali Dargah sanctum

Rapid transformation: PM      

India cannot march through the 21st century with the administrative systems of the 19th century, Narendra Modi said, adding that there is a need to change laws, eliminate unnecessary procedures and speed up processes to go beyond "mere incremental progress."

For more information, see: Rapid transformation, not gradual evolution: Modi's vision for India

Navy orders probe

On the day The Australian newspaper uploaded on its website the second tranche of leaked documents related to six Scorpene class submarines being made by French company DCNS in India, the Indian Navy ordered an internal audit of procedures to rule out any security compromise at its end. Following orders from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the Navy said in a statement that it had taken up the matter with France’s Directorate-General of Armament.

For more information, see: Scorpene leak: Navy orders internal audit, contacts French government

Ready to help Myanmar: Sushma

India is ready to give "all help" was the message given to the Myanmar leadership by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is in Myanmar on the first high-level visit from India after the new government came to power in March following decades of military rule. Swaraj, who called on President U. Htin Kyaw here, also held talks with State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi.

For more information see: India ready to give all help to Myanmar: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

FS says ‘no’ to Kashmir talks with Pakistan

In response to Pakistan’s invitation for talks on Kashmir dispute, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar today said that he will only discuss the cross-border terrorism issue with Islamabad. Jaishankar made the comments to clarify that his discussion with the Pakistani counterpart will not include on-going Kashmir unrest. Responding to an earlier demand made by India, Pakistan had on Friday invited Indian Foreign Secretary to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart by the end of this month in Islamabad.

For more information, see: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar refuses to discuss Kashmir unrest with Pakistan


Nasheed in Colombo

In a none-too-surprising move, Maldives Opposition leaders, spending many months now overseas, arrived in the neighbouring Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo for discussions. The list included ‘jailed’ former President Mohammed Nasheed, who was granted political asylum by the UK, after reaching there on 'medical leave' for spinal surgery. The Colombo discussions, which included Opposition leaders based in Maldives, has triggered speculation about a new ‘plot’ to overthrow President Abdulla Yameen, who is aware of the moves, according to international media reports.

For more information, see: “Opposition leaders’ arrival in Sri Lanka fuels speculation of Yameen’s ouster”, Maldives Independent, 26 August 2016; “Maldives president faces 'removal plot', BBC learns”, BBC News / Maldives Independent, 25 August 2016; “Maseeh: President Yameen will complete the five-year term”, SunOnline, 26 August 2016; “President Nasheed and top officials of his government ordered to pay the state what is owed”, SunOnline, 25 August 2016; “Finance Minister: This is just the beginning”, SunOnline, 27 August 2016; “MDP condemns ECC: “EC celebrates Anniversary for the first time”, SunOnline, 25 August 2016; “Watchdog reacts furiously to Commonwealth plan for judicial reform”, Maldives Independent, 25 August 2016; “Maldives to subject foreign journalists to background checks”, Maldives Independent, August 25, 2016

Gayoom hails PPM ‘rebels’

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has congratulated a section of the ruling PPM parliamentarians, of which he is the founder and chair, for voting against some of the Government-sponsored bills in the People’s Majlis in recent days. With faction feud involving his half-brother and incumbent President heating up, Gayoom called for other party MPs to follow the example.

For more information, see: “Gayoom praises PPM MPs for rejecting ‘unconstitutional’ bills”, Maldives Independent,  21 March 2016; “ACC Report: MVR 49.4 million from the loans issued in Maumoons Presidency not returned to state”, SunOnline, 21 August 2016; “How can a sitting president be removed in the Maldives?”, Maldives Independent, August 21, 2016


Panglong to build trust

The aim of holding the Panglong peace summit on August 31 is to establish trust, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi told the peace process steering team in Nay Pyi Taw.

For more information, see: Panglong to build trust: Suu Kyi

‘No’ to Kofi Annan panel

The Arakan National Party (ANP) has demanded that the government cancel the new Arakan State Advisory Commission formed on August 24, of which former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will serve as the chairman.

For more information, see: ANP Demands Cancellation of Kofi Annan-Led Arakan State Commission

Tourists undeterred

Damage to almost 200 historic pagodas and temples in Bagan, after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Burma on Wednesday evening, has not dampened tourist interest in the ruins of the ancient Burmese capital.

For more information, see: Bagan tourist interest bumps after earthquake


Ministers sworn in

President Bidya Devi Bhandari has administered oath of office and secrecy to 13 newly-appointed ministers namely Arjun Narsingh KC, Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat, Balkrishna Khand, Keshab Kumar Budhathoki, Gagan Kumar Thapa, Shanker Bhandari, Sita Devi Yadav, Hridaya Ram Thani, Romi Gauchan Thakali, Deepak Giri, Nabindra Raj Joshi, Jeevan Bahadur Shahi and Surya Man Gurung from Nepali Congress on August 26 morning at a ceremony organised by Presidents office.

For more information, see: Newly-appointed Ministers sworn-in; Newly-appointed Ministers sworn-in

Tourism adds to GDP

The direct contribution of Nepal’s travel and tourism to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at NPR NPR 85.3 billion, or 4 percent, last year and is forecast to rise by seven percent to 91.3 billion this year, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said. In terms of direct contribution to the GDP by the travel and tourism sector, Nepal is ranked third among 184 countries. However, Nepal comes behind India (second) but ahead of China (14th)

For more information, see: Tourism added NPR 85b to Nepal’s GDP: WTTC

Domestic funding?

Hoping to explore financing of hydro-power projects using 'domestic resources', Minister for Energy Janardan Sharma has started deliberations with the lending institutions. Sharma told Republica that he has invited executives of Nepal Telecom (NT), Citizens Investment Trust (CIT), Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) and security agencies to his ministry on August 26 to discuss tapping their vast cash reserves to finance hydropower projects.

For more information, see: ‘Energy Minister to meet NT, CIT, EPF execs


India talks make no progress

Talks between India and Pakistan have reached a roadblock once again with India rejecting Pakistan’s demand to exclusively discuss Kashmir. India has repeatedly stated that it is willing to sit for talks provided that the talks cover the issue of terrorism and infiltration of militants across the border. A letter written Aizaz Chaudhary, Foreign Affairs Secretary, highlighted the international obligation of both countries to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

For more information, see: India refuses talks over Kashmir issue with Pakistan

MQM offices sealed

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) offices were bulldozed in Karachi on August 25 with authorities arresting key leaders from the party. On orders from the Sindh Chief Minister, Murad Ali Shah, MQM offices which were built on ‘encroached lands’, flags of the party and posters of party members were taken down across the city. These developments happened despite an apology from party chief Altaf Hussain for his "anti-Pakistan remarks and slogans." In addition, British parliamentarians in London approached their government to take action against the party in the UK as it was using "British soil against Pakistan."

For more information, see: Key MQM leaders rounded up, party offices sealed, bulldozed

‘Pak importance reducing for US’

Given Pakistan’s continued support to militant groups despite numerous warnings and the warming of US business and military relations with India is resulting in a diminishing of Pakistan’s strategic importance to Washington according to experts. In recent years, the US has sharply cut its military and economic aid to Pakistan reflecting its frustration with Islamabad’s support for the Taliban’s activities in Afghanistan.

For more information, see: US aid to Pakistan shrinks amid mounting frustration over militants

Sri Lanka 

Sirisena  warns Rajapaksa loyalists

Completing the first year anniversary of the ‘National Unity Government’ (NUG) headed by him, President Maithiripala Sirisena has sacked a whole lot of second-line office-bearers loyal to predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), of which he is the head. He also sent out a stern warning to party dissidents, threatening to expose their ‘secrets’ that he had known, likening him to Mahinda ahead of last year’s presidential polls that the latter last.

For more information, see: “President reads riot act to Rajapaksa loyalists”, The Island, 23 August 2016; “Threats will only motivate us: MR”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 August 2016; “Even MR's family members may be removed: WP CM”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 August 2016; “Reveal the secrets: Gammanpila to President”, Daily Mirror Online, 22 August 2016; “JVP too wants President to reveal secrets”, Daily Mirror Online, August 22, 2016

Sri Lanka can’t walk alone: US

The Government of Sri Lanka cannot walk alone and hope to close the 'dark chapters' in its contemporary history studded with three decades of war, US Ambassador, Atul Keshap has said. Addressing the concluding ceremony of the 'Pacific Angels' peace exercise involving US military doctors and engineers in the war areas, he said that the US was ready to walk with Sri Lanka, holding its hands.

For more information, see: “War Accountability Issues: Sri Lankan Govt. cannot walk alone - U.S.: Pacific Angels did not screen anyone visiting Jaffna medical camps”, The Island, 20 August 2016; “Another top US official in SL”, Daily Mirror Online, 23 August 2016; “US urged to review position on OMP Act”, The Island, 23 August 2016; “Opposition wants OMPB resubmitted to House. It is minus opposition amendments”, The Island, 23 August 2016; “JO questions EU on its silence on threat to democracy under present government”, The Island, August 21, 2016



Speech by Foreign Minister at the Seminar titled “Implementing SDGs in Bangladesh: Challenges and Policy Options” at BISS, Ministry of Foreign affairs, August 24, 2016


11th Annual Consultation between Bhutan and Japan on Economic Cooperation New Delhi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, August 24, 2016


President U. Htin Kyaw holds talks with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, President’s Office, August 23, 2016



Opinion Pieces

Anand Arni and Pranay Kotasthane, India, US Collaboration in Afghanistan could herald change for region, The Wire, August 25, 2016

Mujib Mashal, Mohamad Fahim Abed and Zahra Nader, Attack at university in Kabul shatters a sense of freedom, The New York Times, August 25, 2016

C. J. Chivers, How many guns did the U.S lose track of in Iraq and Afghanistan? Hundreds of thousands, The New York Times, August 24, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Md. Jubair Ahmed, Logging into security, South Asia Monitor, August 23, 2016

Rezaul Hoque, Swallow or not to swallow, Dhaka Tribune, August 22, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Karma Wangchuck, A Stich in time saves nine, Kuensel, August 14, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Why no funds for LG Candidates, Kuensel, August 26, 2016

A more needed review, Kuensel, August 23, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Mushfique Mohamed, Paradise with hell’s furore, Maldives Independent, August 27, 2016

N. Sathiya Moorthy, Re-evaluating and re-positioning Maumoon Gayoom, South Asia Monitor, August 25, 2016

N. Sathiya Moorthy, Re-calibrating ‘India first’ policy, ORF, August 24, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Aung Tun, Myitsone Dam Project: The Fourth Choice or the Fifth one?, Myanmar Times, August 26, 2016

Bertil Lintner, China is the Most Important Foreign Player in the Peace Process, The Irrawaddy, August 26, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Krishna R. Bajgain, Reviving exports, Republica, August 25, 2016

Atul K. Thakur, Killing ‘history’, The Kathmandu Post, August 26, 2016


Minority stake, The Kathmandu Post, August 26, 2016

Thousand flowers, Republica, August 25, 2016


Opinion Pieces

Sudeep Chakravarti, Where Kashmir unites India and Pakistan, Live Mint, August 26, 2016

Zamir Akram, Kashmir: human rights and wrongs, The Express Tribune, August 25, 2016

Khurram Hussain, Karachi and our conscience, Dawn, August 24, 2016


The myth of freedom: What it means to be free in Pakistan, Herald, August 25, 2016

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Malik Samarawickrama, Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade, Excessive spending over the years leads to foreign borrowings, Daily Mirror Online, August 26, 2016

G. L. Peiris, ex-Foreign Minister, Office of missing persons: Lurking dangers, The Island, August 25, 2016

Malinda Seneviratne, Indo-Sri Lanka relations: History and reality, Daily Mirror Online, August 25, 2016

Kelum Bandara, Worsening MS, MR antagonism over the removal of 41 SLFP organisers, Daily Mirror Online, August 25, 2016

S. Ratnajeevan Hoole, Member, Election Commission, Sri Lanka’s Election Commission Undermined, The Island, August 24, 2016

Laksiri Fernando, Achieving balanced regional development through development, The Island, August 22, 2016

N. Sathiya Moorthy, Missing persons, from Rohana Wijeweera to Noel Gunaratnam, The Sunday Leader, August 21, 2016


Kelum Bandara: If we sign ETCA, it will become more attractive for other trade agreements, Daily Mirror Online, August 24, 2016


Afghanistan and Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan and Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Shubh Soni and Pushan Das

Maldives and Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

Nepal: Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury and Sreeparna Banerjee

Coordinator: Mihir Bhonsale

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